Todd-Dawson-042

Transcription: 

Harper’s Ferry, June 4, 1861

It has been raining all morning, and I do not know how I can pass an hour more pleasantly than in writing to you, my own dear and loved Elodie. I think of you so continually and love you so warmly that you are indeed a part and essence of myself. I love to be alone that I may contemplate your image and dream of pictures in the future that are brightened by your connection with them. Every beautiful landscape and every quiet moonlight evening are associated with you and, in communion with you, are admired. Reprove me not, then, and tell me not that you are provoked for I assure you faith has no votary who believes more implicitly in your constancy and affection. I could not love if it was not that I have entire confidence, and I have never yet felt any misgivings. As you love me, I love you, as you confide in me, I confide in you, and it is impossible for me to doubt where I know that I am loved.

Sometimes, in a moment of apprehension, I can imagine how you feel and deeply sympathize with our traveler, and were I near to relieve your forebodings of evil, it would be a thrice blessed privilege. But I take generally a hopeful view of the future and build many castles in which you are always the presiding genius. I think of home only as presided over by you and have not hopes, nor yearnings, that are not associated with you, my dear Elodie. We have many rumors in regard to the plan of the campaign. At one time we are to invade Western Va., at another to rejoin the main army at Manassas Junction and abandon this place entirely. I presume a few days will determine. I will advise you as soon as I know. Great ignorance prevails about our destination as our Gen. properly keeps his own counsels. To abandon this place, in my opinion, would have a bad influence on our army, but, of course, wiser counsels will decide. I wish one grand battle could be fought in sight of Washington to decide the war. I still have an opinion, for which, however, I am hardly able to assign a reason, that our difficulties will be amicably settled. If Miss, Kenty., and Maryland would only take position at once, the matter would speedily be determined. I make great allowance for Kentucky and defend her for you sake as I am no half-inclined to be a Kentuckian. But you surprise me when you would rather be a native of that state than of So. Ca. I thought you had transferred your allegiance to her. The last news from Kentucky, of the passage of the bill arming the state, is very gratifying to us as it looks as if she was preparing to assume her proper place. I hope Mr. Breckenridge will yet be able to lead her to join her southern sisters. It has been rumored here that Gov. M. Griffin has required Pres. Davis to return the Kentuckians here to their state. It is to be feared that Mr. Lincoln will treat the other border states as he has treated Maryland.

While you have much to distress so sensitive a nature as yours on account of the division in your family, you should reflect, my dear Elodie, and derive consolation from the fact that you are pursuing the only right path and have given your brothers and your sympathies to the cause of your country. In after years, when these troubles shall have become historical, the bearing and conduct of your family will be a source of great satisfaction. And you will pluck from the crown of thorns many pleasant tho’ sad memorials of their conduct. This has been the case with my own family, many of whom lost their lives and fortunes in the Revolution and in the War of 1812. Mrs. Mayo of Baltimore, now the wife of Gen. Scott, was engaged to my uncle, Lieut. Hamilton of the Navy when he was killed on board the President.

I wish now our regiment had been ordered to Norfolk as my relative Gen. Huger of the Confederate army has command at that place and as we would in all probability have been stationary But I will indulge in no vain regrets but endeavor to meet calmly and bravely all the evils and trials that may befall me. In undergoing them, I am strengthened by the knowledge of your love and that, in your, I have a constant and an anxious advocate at the feel of the ----- [Almighty]. I am so happy, my dearest, that you are religiously inclined. Christianity is an essential jewel in every woman. It is the crowning grace in her character. And I feel strong in possessing the love of Christian lady. To kneel with you at the altar will be one of the happy events of my life.

I will keep the other pages of this letter open for this evening as I hope to hear from you this morning, not having heard since you letter of 23d in which you read me such a lecture. I begin to see the Todd already against whom you have been warning me, but I will trust my own opinion. George Mims is quite well but is a wild fellow. I have tried to make him a good boy for your sake and his sisters. He is doing very well now. I have all of your letters that have been received. They are eight in number, dated No. 1 May 2d, No. 2 May 3d, No. 3 May 5 & 6, No. 4 May 9, with your mother’s, No. 5 May 15, No. 6 May 17, No. 7 May 19, No. 8 May 22 & 23d. I replied to your mother’s on the 17th or 18th of May. I read these letters over frequently as they are so pleasant and soothing.

Evening. June 4.

Your sweet letter of 26th May has just been read and read. Dearest, I will try in future not to add to your troubles by writing sadly. I would heal rather than excite your anxiety. I wrote to Maj. Haden two days since, telling him what we wanted. I have bought hear 300 yards of cadet grey to have pants made for the men, and the ladies of Winchester will make them up. But if we are ordered from here we may not get them, and I may have to return the material. We have indeed found the ladies of Va. good Samaritans. They have made and given us a good many caps. We call them Zouave caps. Can’t you make one for me with a hood and have it sent on in the box? Mrs. White will arrange it so that you will not be known as the donor. I was the first captain of the Blues but agree very much with you in regard to them as you will know from letters, especially of their captain.

Are you not mistaken in saying that Miss Lamb sent you the first magnolia you ever saw? Do you not remember that I sent you one from Mrs. Matthews’ garden? I am glad you receive so many marks of kindness from Mrs. M. I will always feel grateful for them. A kindness to you is doubly one to me as I love you more than myself. You are dearer far to me than life. I do not, in my estimate of your character, believe that you are more than human, but I believe you to be equal and peer of any of your sex as I know what woman is, as compared with a man, an angel of purity. I have a very high estimate of the general worth of woman. I have been blessed with the love of two who were as faultless as humanity can be, and in you I know that I have the love of one equally pure and gentle. I could not love you as I do unless you were what you are. You have faults like other persons, but they are small compared with my catalogue of sins, and I will compare you with myself and award you the palm. To this you cannot object. I am content to await the development, and when you shall display the faults you speak of, I will not tell you that I was not warned of their existence. I will be blessed with your love and all I ask is that you will be prepared to excuse and be a little blind to my faults and sin qualities, for I have many. I am a poor, sinful man. I will promise to be kind, to be affectionate, to shield you from the soft, south winds, but you must be prepared to find me far from faultless. If I live to be your husband I will never leave home and you except under a most pressing sense of duty. I will wish to live to be near you always and expect you will have to drive me from home. I love you as dearly as if you were already married, and, indeed, I can see no reason why I should not regard you as dearly as my wife. We are already married, as far as affection can unite us. The public declaration of the fact alone is wanting. I will miss you as much as any man could his wife and love you as well. I rejoice that you learned so rapidly the teachings of your captain and am obliged to you mother for her consent. Tell her I take you with all of your faults just as you are and would have no change if in my power. Write soon. Believe me ever and

Affectionately yours,

N.H.R. Dawson

I have just conversed with a Va. officer since closing this letter. He says Gen. Beauregard and Pres. Davis are at Manassas junction, 35 miles from Alexandria, and that a large army will be concentrated there to march upon Washington. I hope this is true as it will do much towards peace. As soon as we show that we are able, we will conquer a peace without much bloodshed.

Date: 
June 4, 1861

Author(s)

Unit: 
4th Alabama Infantry
Rank: 
Captain
Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL

Recipient(s)

Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL

From

From State: 
Virginia
From Municipality: 

To

To State: 
Alabama
To Municipality: 
To County: 
Dallas

Get in touch

  • Department of History
    220 LeConte Hall, Baldwin Street
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602-1602
  • 706-542-2053
  • history@uga.edu

eHistory was founded at the University of Georgia in 2011 by historians Claudio Saunt and Stephen Berry

Learn More about eHistory